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A Necessary Element for the Bills on Offense
Admittedly, last week’s 24-10 win for Buffalo against New England wasn’t all that entertaining. But, with Josh Allen playing through an elbow injury for the rest of the season, we saw Buffalo commit more to running the football. It’s possible the Bills are playing the long game here with Allen and trying to manage his throwing attempts particularly in games they have the lead in most of the way like last week in Foxboro. Keep in mind, the Bills in recent seasons have all but ignored their running backs as they’ve been extremely pass heavy and Allen himself is always a threat to run. However, we saw a combined 27 carries for James Cook and Devin Singletary last week. Cook was more efficient averaging 4.6 yards per carry to Singletary’s 3.9 and producing 64 rushing yards to Singletary’s 51 although Singletary found the end zone. The larger disparity fell in the passing game though as Cook caught six balls to zero for Singletary. The uptick in overall rushing attempts by Buffalo combined with Cook catching a lot of short passes certainly indicates the Bills may want to keep Allen’s downfield throws limited which could give Cook some late life in all fantasy formats entering the playoffs.
Guess Who’s Back in the Motor City?
Remember D’Andre Swift? If you don’t, that’s totally understandable as the third-year back has been MIA for the Lions for most of 2022. Last week’s 40-14 blowout win over Jacksonville was only Swift’s second game eclipsing double digit carries and the first came in Week 1. Swift added a season-high 49 receiving yards on four receptions as well last week and found the end zone on the ground for just the fourth time this season. With all that said, Swift’s touchdown was his third in the last four games and he seems to be returning to fantasy relevance. His 51% snap share was wildly encouraging as he hadn’t gone past a 34% snap share since Week 8. The Lions getting away from Swift was perplexed me. They are a rebuilding team that should be looking to establish building blocks on the roster moving forward not rely on veterans like Jamaal Williams and Justin Jackson. Granted, Detroit has been winning more lately and still has an outside chance at the playoffs, but the Lions should still be keeping at least one eye on the future. Also, isn’t Swift the most talented back on the roster for the present as well? Whatever caused his disappearance for most of the season is something well just move past even if it’s never explained. You should be confident about deploying Swift as a weekly starter again.
A Rookie Wide Receiver Showing Promise
Did you see that explosive catch and run from Jahan Dotson last week in the fourth quarter for the Washington Commanders that resulted in Washington getting even at 20 against the Giants? It was a big-time play from Dotson given the circumstances of when it occurred, being against a divisional opponent and the Commanders trailing by a touchdown and managing to pull out a tie in a game that very easily could have turned into a loss and hurt their playoff chances significantly. The rookie out of Penn State has had an up-and-down first season. He scored four touchdowns in the first four games for Washington, then missed five games and returned to the lineup in Week 10 catching just two balls in his first three games back. However, if his explosive TD to go with a season high 23% target share are any indications, Dotson’s role could be stabilizing for the Commanders. After all, this was a first-round pick for an offense that really had no one outside of Terry McLaurin that it could rely on to catch passes so it would make sense that Dotson’s role grew eventually. Washington is on a bye week this week, but Dotson is worth an add in your league and could be a useful contributor in the fantasy playoffs.
San Francisco Backfield Update
This has been a situation we’ve monitored routinely throughout the regular season for a variety of reasons. For starters, Kyle Shanahan’s backs have almost always been fantasy relevant thanks to a strong offensive line and his scheme seemingly always producing rushing yards. Additionally, there’s been quite a bit of personnel moving and shaking in the Bay Area at running back. Elijah Mitchell got hurt early in the season. Jeff Wilson Jr. was productive in Mitchell’s absence. Christian McCaffrey was traded to the 49ers. As Mitchell was returning from injury, Wilson Jr. was traded to Miami and the 49ers looked set to ride with McCaffery and Mitchell for the stretch run. Then Mitchell got hurt again and got placed on injured reserve again and his disjointed season is likely over. That’s left McCaffrey to shoulder an even bigger workload than perhaps originally expected in San Francisco which might be hard to believe as talented as McCaffrey is. The Stanford product is back in familiar territory and played 82% of the snaps on offense for San Francisco last week. You shouldn’t need anything else than that to assume McCaffrey is an RB1 for the rest of the season. With that said, no, this update is not simply to say Christian McCaffrey is good at football.
I’m not sure that an 82% snap share is going to be the norm for CMC moving forward, but if it is, it’s worth noting McCaffrey has played every week this season between his time with the Panthers and 49ers. The oft-injured running back has been mostly healthy and the injuries he has dealt with haven’t barred him from suiting up once this season. By no means am I wishing injury on McCaffrey but it wouldn’t be a surprise if it happened given his past and what appears to be a massive workload every week. Even if something minor were to occur this week against Tampa’s stingy defense, bear in mind the 49ers play on Thursday night in Week 15 so McCaffrey would be up against a short week in an effort to play next week. Therefore, don’t forget about Jordan Mason. I must admit, I was in a bit of a desperate situation in my 12-team league with deep benches and started Mason as a flex on the hunch that there might be enough to go around for Mason as the No. 2 running back in an offense that always runs the ball well. Mason’s eight carries for 51 yards were more than I expected to get out of him and were another indication that Shanahan’s backs all produce in his offense. A lot of people in the fantasy community had varying opinions on who the No. 2 RB would be in San Fran after Mitchell’s return to IR, but most felt Mason would get the first crack at the non-McCaffrey carries. He did and capitalized on his opportunity. Mason should absolutely be rostered in all leagues with a minimum of 10 teams.
By Greg Frank
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